Find a handmade Christmas gift at the Owen Craft Fair

Margaret Hurt
Special to The Black Mountain News

The Owen Craft Fair holds a special place in Melissa Duarte and daughter Sarah Grace’s holiday calendar. Each year, they purchase a felted decorative item, handmade by Owen Middle School students.

“We love to support the artisans and the school, and it is such a friendly community event,” Melissa said. Like many in the Valley, they would not miss the annual event.

On Dec. 12, close to 40 vendors will fill the school gym with their creations. At one vendor table, guests will find the wire and beaded earrings made by third-year crafts fair participant Elizabeth Walton of Red Ren Jewelry. Walton is a mere 13 years old, but she is succeeding as a teen entrepreneur, having recently added new items to her line, thanks to a home-school entrepreneurship class. She likes the craft fair because of how friendly people there are.

Terry Hall, an area author and longtime Asheville City Schools teacher, principal and supervisor, hopes to have a productive day at his vendor table. Two of his books will available for purchase and signing. “A Matter of Conscience” is a true love story about his great-great-grandfather who fought in the border wars of the 1850s. “Notes from the Chalkboard” is a collection of interviews from teachers, principals and superintendents all over Western North Carolina, relating the most funny things that happened in their teaching experience.

Now in its 12th year, the annual Owen Holiday Craft Fair features arts and crafts handmade by professional artisans, likely including pottery, blown glass, doll outfits, toys, jewelry and wearable art, carved wooden items and home decorative items. For children, the fair has a holiday activity room, hosted by the school’s Builder’s Club, which is sponsored by local Kiwanis Club. Provided at no charge, the room offers holiday games and crafts (possibly even a visit from Santa himself).

The craft fair money helps with purchases that dwindling local funds haven’t provided for. Proceeds in the past have allowed eighth-grade language arts teacherJarret Kaufman to purchase a set of “The Hobbit,” as well as a movie. The materials are now part of the class curriculum. Money from the craft fair is also used for teacher-directed projects.

For Jen Kiecker, who teaches seventh- and eighth-grade math, funds last year secured an important MobyMax program. The online program is a standards assessment that determines whether specific standards are being reached by students. It also helps staff track student progress during the year.

OMS teacher Teresa Cowen had the idea for the craft fair 12 years ago. Since her husband was an artisan, she wanted to showcase the work of area artists in a way that would also raise money for Owen Middle.

The event has become a Valley holiday tradition for many, known of its convivial atmosphere. In a unique way, the event also brings the school community together - staff, students and parents - who all help in various ways.

OMS eighth-grade language arts teacher and event coordinator Bill Feste described the craft fair as “good for the community and the crafters,” something that “involves students in meaningful ways” while raising money for the school.

“At a time when many funds are being taken away, this activity allows us to put funds back into the school,” he said.

Last year a portion of event proceeds helped launch the Natural Impact Initiative. Phase One of the project helped create a native pollinator garden, pond habitat, American Chestnut Germplasm orchard, milkweed plot for a Monarch Butterfly waystation and park benches with donor plaques.

“We are so thankful for the artisans and community members who support the OMS craft fair,” seventh-grade science teacher Brittany Krasutsky said.

Christmas shop here

What: Owen Holiday Craft Fair

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 12

Where: Owen Middle School